Saturday afternoon couldn’t have gone much worse for Tennessee, but the nightcap couldn’t have gone much better. Tennessee fell to Georgia in Athens, giving up their No. 1 ranking in the process. However, things are certainly still looking good for the Volunteers in the College Football Playoff race.
No. 4 Clemson was absolutely dismantled by Notre Dame in South Bend. The Tigers were largely regarded as overrated, especially after last week’s rankings came out. Clemson checked in ahead of TCU and Michigan, despite a subpar schedule. That issue took care of itself on Saturday night.
The Fighting Irish crushed Clemson, 35-14. Considering the lack of wins for Clemson, they have an uphill climb to get back in the top four.
And down in Death Valley, we had an elimination game of sorts. Alabama traveled to LSU with the winner gaining control of the SEC West. It was ugly for three quarters, and then it got downright wild.
Bryce Young worked his magic, but Jayden Daniels matched his every move. LSU forced overtime, and then went for the win. After trading touchdowns, Brian Kelly went for two. The Tigers got it, knocking Alabama out of playoff contention.
Now, Tennessee sits in a pretty nice spot. They avoid Atlanta, and simply have to run through South Carolina, Missouri and Vanderbilt to finish at 11-1. That’s going to keep them in the top four mix until the end, and now since Alabama has lost, the Volunteers have a good shot to give the SEC their second bid in the playoff, despite the result today.
The question is, how will the committee view Tennessee now? They won’t be a division winner, but no team has the wins that they have either.
So we’re left with undefeated Georgia, Ohio State, Michigan and TCU. That’s probably your new top four, and Ohio State/Michigan will face an elimination game during the final weekend of the regular season. TCU still has to face Texas, Baylor and Iowa State.
That leaves Tennessee looking like the best one-loss team in the nation, with Clemson, Oregon and USC trailing closely behind.
We’ll see what the committee thinks on Tuesday night.